Women need to take care of their heart health before pregnancy

Women need to take care of their heart health before pregnancy

An undated image of a woman running. — Pexels

For some people, one of the most exciting times in their lives can be finding out they are pregnant.

It is crucial to take take care of your heart health before you even get pregnant to ensure a safe pregnancy for you and the baby, recent research has revealed.

According to American Heart Association research, the heart health of women before conception has a significant impact on the risks associated with pregnancy as well as the long-term cardiovascular health of the mother and her child.

Of course, once pregnancy begins, the health of the mother has an effect on the unborn child. Yet preventing the generational cycle of poor cardiovascular health, which is common in countries like the United States, may require improving heart health before conception.

Taking care of one’s health before conceiving is particularly crucial for women affected by racism in institutions and precarious social conditions, the study results showed.

According to Holly Gooding, MD, associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine and vice chair of the statement’s editorial board, “If you improve the health of the mother before pregnancy, that optimizes her health during pregnancy, which affects the health of the child later in life.”

Surprisingly, more than one in four pregnancy-related deaths in the United States is caused by cardiovascular disease, a broad term for any condition affecting the heart or blood vessels.

According to the latest analysis, the problem has been compounded by increased pregnancy risks. Health issues, such as high blood pressure, early birth, low birth weight and gestational diabetes, impact about one in five pregnancies. Over the past ten years, the risks of high blood pressure have increased and these pregnancies increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in both mother and child.

The study also highlights the need for legislative changes to get rid of structural racism and other harmful societal elements that rob some women of better maternal health. “Finding ways to intervene and promote health equitably is critical,” said editorial board chair and assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago Sadiya Khan, MD.

Gooding claimed that the concept of “pre-pregnancy” had been expanded by the editorial board to encompass all of the childbearing years. This age range, which varies from person to person, is approximately between 15 and 44 years old.

“We avoided defining it on purpose because it’s something that further study needs to address,” Khan said.

How to improve heart health

Khan emphasized the need to meet the health standards outlined in AHA’s Life Essential 8 to ensure you have optimal heart health, no matter what your age.

Key points include:

  • No Smoking
  • enough sleep
  • Physical activity
  • Healthy weight
  • Balanced diet
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels

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